Haley Davis selected as Inaugural Kirbo Foundations’ Kirbo Scholar

Published 10:04 am Wednesday, June 8, 2022

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Senior Awards Night for graduating seniors at nearby Miller County High School is a special occasion for teachers and administrators to publicly recognize those seniors who have excelled in their academic and extracurricular programs during their years at MCHS.

Among the deserving seniors of which there are many, one has received recognition that is unique with respect to its history as a college scholarship but plays an important role in creating a pathway to teaching in rural Georgia. This year also marks the first award of the Thomas M. Kirbo & Irene B. Kirbo Charitable Foundations’ Kirbo Scholar. This awardee aspires to be a teacher, and in this case as a Kirbo Scholar. The Kirbo Foundation is well known in the Bainbridge Community for its demonstrated interest in charitable causes. It has been recognized by the Georgia Municipal Association with its Renaissance Award, for its support of many Georgia rural communities and cities. This first Kirbo Foundation Scholar will begin her first step on a pathway wherein after graduation and certification as a teacher, she can return to a Southwest Regional school and perhaps begin her teaching career at the High School and in the community within which she was raised.

The Kirbo Scholar will become a participant in the Ruby Sullivan teaching program at Valdosta State University. This Program is named for its benefactor Ms. Ruby Sullivan, who, for 67 years, was a teacher/administrator in rural Georgia, mainly in Mitchell County. Because of some frugal investments, Ms. Sullivan created this scholarship which is aimed at assisting high school students from rural Southwest Georgia to earn a full four-year scholarship to Valdosta State University earning a degree in teaching. This is accomplished by filling the gap between state and federal available scholarships. The Kirbo Foundation is joining in this effort, to ensure that the family contribution becomes basically zero. Valdosta State University created this Teaching Scholars Program which, while focusing on academic support, has become an engaging on-campus community of Scholars. In just a few years many Scholars have been elected leaders of several campus student programs. This Kirbo Scholar was nominated by her principal and high school teachers and then competed for the award. This year there were only seven high school senior students entering the Sullivan Scholarship Program. Miller County High School senior Ms. Haley Davis is one of those seven students and she is the first Kirbo Foundation Scholar.

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Haley is the daughter of Danny and Susan Davis of Colquitt. Besides achieving a 3.9 GPA, playing two musical instruments in four years with the MCHS marching band, participating in the Future Business Leaders of America, the Speech Team, Swamp Gravy and the Beta Club, Haley manages to work a “part time” job at Cafe Lele between 6 and 10 hours per week. To be considered for a Sullivan Scholarship, there is no “application”.

Haley has wanted to become a teacher for several years, citing the influence on her life at MCHS made by the music instructor, Mrs. Holly Thomas, and teacher Mrs. Christy Whitaker. Haley cites as a reason the manner in which each teacher connects with their students to make learning an enjoyable experience. Teacher Thomas describes her interaction with Haley in these words: “Haley is a wonderful student that has the determination and self-discipline to be successful and reach her goals. It has been an honor and privilege to watch her grow into the young lady that she is today. I am excited to see what her future holds.” Haley has made it clear in her application process, that she would love to apply for a position back at MCHS after college graduation. She has a strong connection to Colquitt, and teaching younger students to appreciate music and theater in a rural setting is her goal. This would make Mrs. Sullivan and the Kirbo Foundation very proud, because their gifts to VSU were done in the hope it would assist motivated students to become teachers, and equally important, return to their rural high school, and make a difference in the lives of their students. Valdosta State and the Kirbo Foundation will enable the first stop in Haley’s teaching education, and hopefully Miller County will welcome her return as the first job in her teaching career.